Film Review: ‘It’ Declares Itself as a Horror Classic with a Powerhouse Ensemble

Fear can be paralyzing, and to some, it’s invigorating.  The adaptation of Stephen King‘s horror masterpiece “It” is not only one of the best horror films in years, it clearly stands as one of the best films of 2017.  Not shielding the audience with its grotesque and terrifying nature, director Andy Muschetti (“Mama”) applies skill and surprisingly tenderness to the frightening tale.

It,” based on the hugely popular novel of the same name, tells the story of a group of young children who live in the town of Derry.  When children mysteriously go missing, the group encounter the evil Pennywise the Clown, whose history and violence dates back centuries.

If there’s something you take with you when the credits roll, it’s the superbly executed work of the stellar cast.  Not joking by any means, this is one of the clearest cases for rewarding a film with a SAG Cast Ensemble nomination in quite some time.  All the young actors rise to the challenge, hypnotizing the viewers with their delightful chemistry, and displaying countless emotions, well beyond their years.  Paired up with the petrifying turn from Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise, “It” fashions and establishes itself as one of the new age horror classics for audiences to relish for decades.

Smart, original, and unabashedly gruesome, Muschetti doesn’t shy from the heavy material.  Watching children murdered in the most daunting manners possible is no easy task.  Doubled with the chilling camera work of Chung-hoon Chung and the haunting music of Benjamin Wallfisch, “It” raises its scares to new levels with every jump and every beat it musters.

Great horror films rely on suspense and tension and “It” is no exception.  Not only relishing in its creepy elements, the film is chalk full of laughs and most importantly sincerity.  The film has so much heart, that by the film’s end, you may find yourself moved to tears due to the richly dynamic characters.

With striking visuals unleashing its rhythms, “It” manages to find the proper balance between all its blending elements.  With an impending sequel in the works, we can only hope that the future adults of the tale are half as talented as what the kids represented.  I’d almost wish they’d wait the 27 years for the kids to grow up and play their older, more engaging selves.

With a hefty runtime over 2 hours, Muschetti takes his time drawing out the fear and anxiety. With the script by Chase Palmer, Cary Joji Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman, they steer the story in a near perfect mobility.  However, with that said, you’d wish they spent slightly more time with some of the lower-profile “Losers,” in particular Mike (played by Chosen Jacobs) and Richie (played by “Stranger Things” star Finn Wolfhard), who is used solely for our comic relief.

Learn the names of Jaeden Lieberher (already showing his skills in “St. Vincent”), Sophia Lillis (a beautiful talent to watch for the future), and Jack Dylan Grazer (probably the best in show).  They’ll be around for some time.

It” is such a strange find in a rather lukewarm cinematic year.  Not expecting its ability to connect with the viewer, the film is downright fantastic and can be experienced by the most hardened movie goer or the “scardiest” of cats.

It” is distributed by Warner Bros. and hits theaters on Sept. 8.

GRADE: (★½)

Check out the newest Oscar Predictions and see where “It” ranks!